Check, Double Check & Check Again
And Don’t Forget the Chicken
Some years ago, when I had been involved in the industry for quite awhile and had become the accomplished facilitator, our organization agreed to move to a new location. To facilitate the move, two sides of a new joint venture and additional staff from the outside world were brought together — 150 positions in all. This move needed to be handled without a hitch and I was tasked with ensuring that this group formed a united working force.Check lists were created, construction schedules were coordinated and service contracts were awarded. The furniture was ordered and delivered on time, the phone and computer lines were installed, the operating systems put in place. We were ready for our move — all the staff had to do was pack their boxes on Friday and show up to the new location on Monday. As part of the move and as a treat, we promised everyone a chicken lunch on the first day at our new location.
The weekend went smoothly: The phone installers transferred all the lines, the furniture movers did all the heavy lifting and the computers were up and running and everything was on schedule. Not a single item was damaged or overlooked nor a task incomplete nor an employee forgotten. Everyone was taken care of.
Then 11:30 came around — the chicken had not arrived yet. 11:45 — still no chicken. A murmur of disapproval started to grow. As this was a new area of town and no one knew where to go for lunch, the expectations for the chicken lunch were quite high. A mob gathered outside my door. I checked my list and sure enough, the chicken delivery was there, checked and confirmed. It was my suspicion that the delivery (admittedly a large order that they were not accustomed to) was simply late. 12:00 — still no chicken.
Panic settled in. I grabbed the phone and contacted the restaurant. “Where is my chicken?”
“Oh!” the other voice exclaimed. “Was that today? Well I have 15 boxes. Is that okay?”
“No, I need 150 boxes. But I’ll take the 15, thank you.”
Slam went the phone. I quickly assembled my staff. “Here is some money, go get whatever you can as fast as you can.”
In less than an hour, an unruly situation was turned into a positive situation. By 1:00 my staff was back with more chicken, burgers and pizza. Everyone was eating and the once antagonistic atmosphere had been suppressed.
The rest of the day went without a hitch, the group had come together, new alliances had been formed, the project was off to a great start. In reflection, no one seemed to notice the time and labor required to set up their furniture, ensure that their phones and computers were working, or the effort to make everything happen cleanly and clandestinely. There were some expectations of first day problems, but they did look forward to that free lunch.
Who would have thought that the smallest of things, a $3.00 box chicken would rule the day? We were so thorough with detailing everything that we even knew the favourite colour of the furniture installers’ children. Someone (me) should have made that call first thing Monday morning to double check on the lunches — one phone call at 9:00am could have saved a huge headache at 12:00.
The lessons to be learned are: Don’t take anything for granted. The smallest of details is often overlooked and it often has the greatest effect on the outcome. And remember to ensure that the human input is the most important factor to deal with.
At the end of the day, my boss and most of the staff stopped by to say good job but they couldn’t leave without chuckling as they walked down the hall, “Next time don’t forget the chicken.”
I now hold that phrase as a motto for the way I conduct business.
PS: The chicken guy’s favorite colour was blue.